Ali and I took a somewhat long school “break” during the Winteriest part of Winter, partially because we were busy, and partially because I just didn’t have a lot of motivation for much of anything else.

(Darn winteriest winter ever. It effected me greatly.)

Now that it’s nearly summertime and she should rightfully have a school break (I conveniently haven’t taught her about school rights yet), we’re back at it.

I decided that we’d learn countries this time, which I assumed would be much harder than states and presidents, but I am happy to report that I was quite wrong.

Apparently, three year olds learn much faster than two year olds. Who knew.

Exactly a year ago, it took us two and a half months to learn 50 states. We started countries a week ago, working on it 15-20 minutes each morning after breakfast, and she already knows about 60.

In case you weren’t around for the original two learning assignmentsor I wasn’t clear enough in my step-by-steps, here’s how we do it:

1. Make it a game. Ali has no concept that school is supposed to be boring and a drag. She seriously begs to do this every morning, and thinks it’s one of the most fun things we do all day long (which makes it really fun for me, too). I also leave our maps on the breakfast table to jog both of our memories to play countries.

2. Find something small and delicious that you can use lots of for rewards. I initially used marshmallows and yogurt covered raisins, but to cut down on her sugar intake, I switched to Pistachios. She didn’t seem to mind the switch. But if non-candy items just don’t do the trick, Nerds are a great tiny prize that shouldn’t lead to a sugar coma.

3. When you start out, put a prize on a location on your map (I usually use laminated placemats
, but since there are so many small countries, I got us a larger map
and had it laminated), and tell them what it’s called. Have them repeat it about four times, and then they get the prize.

4. The next time they do that location, only give them the first syllable and see if they can say the rest. Each time you do that country over again, wait longer and longer before giving them any hints to see if they can say it by themselves. I am shocked how quickly Ali learns them.

5. After doing 10-15 countries or states, do a “review” – put five prizes at the top of the map and tell them that they get them ALL after a review. Then quickly go through all of the locations you’ve learned to see if they remember them.

6. Don’t learn too many at once – we learned 15 the first day (most of which she was already familiar with), and then added 5-10 each day. When they start to seem bored or overwhelmed, stop for the day. Keep it fun.

Why do this?

Because really, there is no greater entertainment than hearing a three year old use a random country in a sentence, such as these:

“When leaves fall off the trees and go in the water, they float to Indonesia.”

“Saudi Arabia is a real country, Mommy.”

“I think you’re either going to Sweden, or to Outtakes Deli with Daddy. I’ve been to Sweden. It’s a really pretty place.”

Here’s our review today, on our seventh day of learning.

(Caution: If you get YouTube Motion Sickness, you might want to avert your eyes in the second half of this video.)

What – you’ve never heard of Iraguay? You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Iraguay.

15 thoughts on “Breakfast Globetrotting.

  1. It is amazing what they can soak up this young. We have a 50-states CD and played it maybe twice. (Most annoying thing I EVER heard.) But my 3-year-old hung on to most of it after her first listen. I really should be playing her Rosetta Stone cd's. Fluent in Chinese before kindergarten? Totally doable.

  2. Way to go, Ali! You have some serious traveling to do! I should try this so Esme can add some international flare to her stories about when she was a baby unicorn with her feet stuck together so she had to ride in a wheelchair or whatever…

  3. Ummm, I'm never coming back to your blog again.
    "(screaming)SCHYLER!!! Get to the school-room NOW! Get out the map puzzle!! We have a few things to do!!"

  4. I am going to try your technique with numbers. I think she's got 1-100 down but ineed to solidify. :). I will try states after that. Way to go on keeping school fun! Are you planning to homeschool all the way through?

  5. I promise – it's not hard at all! Nothing to be impressed with.

    R – yes, I do plan on homeschooling. I was homeschooled all of my life and am so glad that I was – plus, Ali has just the right amount of focus and geekiness to her that I think she'll be a pretty good fit for homeschooling.

  6. I was able to learn all 50 states and capitals by the 4th grade, no problem. But I’ve NEVER learned all the countries. Schools just don’t teach that anymore (and I graduated over 10 years ago)! My baby girl may be only be a 12 months old, but I’m determined that she know all the countries of the world, all the provinces of Canada as well as all 50 states.

  7. Found your blog via Pinterest – then your youtube channel, then your blog on Facebook. I’m wondering if we may have been separated at birth or something? Love your ideas! (BTW: We JUST moved to to B’ham area…Saw your Roll Tide and Tazikis videos – small world!)

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